Gators defeat UK Baseball 5-3 in series opener

Florida starting pitcher Hudson Randall baffled the UK offense for six innings, leading the Gators to a 5-3 win over the Cats in Cliff Hagan Stadium Thursday evening.

Randall stifled the Cats offense, scattering four hits and allowing one run thru the first six innings of play.

“He was keeping it low and keeping us off balance,” freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino said. “It took us a bit to adjust.”

The Gators scored three times in the third inning, to gain a 4-0 advantage. The Gators capitalizing on four singles and a throwing error by Zac Zellers in the inning.

“They (Florida) did a good job of putting the ball in play,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “Sometimes you lose. I don’t fault the effort at all.”

The Cats answered with one run in the bottom of the fifth, but was finally able to knock Randall out of the game with a two-run home run by senior designated hitter Michael Williams. Williams’ second home run of the season narrowed the Gator lead to one at 4-3.

The Gators tacked on an insurance run in the top of the 9th on two hits and a sacrifice bunt, to give them a 5-3 lead.

Randall finished with the win for the Gators to move 5-1 on the season. He pitched 6.2 innings, giving up six hits and three runs. He struck out four Cats and walked one.

The UK starting pitcher, junior Taylor Rogers took the loss to move to a 5-3 record. He pitched six innings, giving up seven hits and four runs – three of which were earned runs.

“If we get starting pitching performances like we had tonight, we’ll be ok,” Henderson said. “He was tough, stayed down for the most part and gave us a chance to win.”

Junior right fielder Cameron Flynn and senior designated hitter Michael Williams led the Cats offensively with two hits apiece. The tandem also combined for all three RBIs in the game for the Cats.

UK sophomore second baseman J.T. Riddle shinned in the field all night. Riddle showed a deep range on ground balls hit toward the middle and made an acrobatic leaping grab of soft liner to right-centerfield.

The Cats have lost three in a row and four of their last four games.
“We’ll get out of it. I don’t know when. I don’t have a crystal ball or anything like that,” Henderson said. “We’ll continue to compete and play hard.”

The Cats (36-10, 14-8 SEC) will resume the series against the Gators (34-12, 13-9 SEC) Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium at 7 p.m.

The three-game series will conclude with a 2 p.m. first pitch Saturday.